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Wind In The Willows Reviewed, Library Theatre

Jonathan Schofield and kids appreciate a gentle Christmas comedy

Published on December 14th 2011.

Wind In The Willows Reviewed, Library Theatre

THE best approval for a Christmas show comes from the kids.

"Did you like that?" I asked Ralph and his mate.

"It was really good, it was great," came the various reponses.

This came as a surprise.

Toad should have had the northern voice maybe and played the character like an Edwardian cotton baron's son. 

The Library Theatre's production of The Wind in the Willows was charming but from an adult point of view lacked pace and humour. 

The Alan Bennett adaptation of the Kenneth Grahame 1908 classic children's story is pleasant but scarcely gripping. Two years ago I went to Grimms Tales by the Library Theatre and it was superb; a rich balance of light and dark that was frequently funny. 

This drifted along in its 'messing about in boats' way, with a lovely set that was all sunshine and spring and summer, while outside the winds howled across the Manchester Ship Canal.

There were some excellent performances all the same.

Paul Barnhill as Toad stole the show, as you'd expect. Toad's extravagances, vanity and contradictory nature were all bundled up in bursts of energy and linguistical flourishes. 

Sophie Gajewicz as homely Mole was sweet, while Christopher Wright as Rat was a perfect mix of caution and courage. 

Perhaps it was too predictable, patronising almost, that Mole would have the northern accent, as though northern accents are cute but not to be taken too seriously. Toad should have had the northern voice maybe and played the character like an Edwardian cotton baron's son. 

Still as we followed the characters through Toad's motoring passion, to his disgrace, through adventures in the Wild Wood, and the big happy ending the kids clearly lapped it up. 

That in the end is what you want from a Christmas show. 

The Library Theatre's The Wind in the Willows is at the Quays Theatre at The Lowry until 14 January 2011. Click here



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